Apple to protect iMessages from quantum computers


Your iMessage chat history will be protected from quantum computers in the future with a newly introduced cryptographic protocol.

On February 21st, Apple announced a post-quantum cryptographic (PQC) protocol called PQ3 upgrade in the iMessage app to ensure end-to-end security.

According to the company, the new protocol will protect data on the iMessage app from “highly sophisticated” quantum attacks in the future, even though quantum computers with the capability to compromise end-to-end encryption still do not exist.

While attackers can't decrypt end-to-end data now, they can keep it until they obtain a quantum computer capable of decryption in the future. This strategy is known as Harvest Now, Decrypt Later.

“PQ3 is the first messaging protocol to reach what we call Level 3 security – providing protocol protections that surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps. To our knowledge, PQ3 has the strongest security properties of any at-scale messaging protocol in the world,” states a blog post from Apple’s Security Engineering and Architecture (SEAR) department.

Messaging platforms use classical public key cryptography to ensure secure end-to-end encrypted connections between devices.

These algorithms rely on complex mathematical problems that are computationally intensive, meaning they require significant computational resources to solve. Examples of these problems include factoring large prime numbers (RSA), solving elliptic curve discrete logarithm problems (Elliptic Curve signatures), and computing discrete logarithms in finite fields (Diffie-Hellman key exchange).

Even with advancements in computing power over time, as described by Moore's Law, these mathematical problems remain challenging for computers to solve within a reasonable timeframe. Therefore, they provide a robust foundation for ensuring the security of encrypted connections, as their complexity makes them resistant to brute-force and other cryptographic attacks.

The rise of quantum computing introduces new challenges. A quantum computer with enough power could tackle classical mathematical problems in radically different ways, potentially jeopardizing the security of end-to-end encrypted communications by solving them much faster than conventional computers.

To address the risks posed by future quantum computers, the cryptographic community has been developing PQC protocols. These are new public key algorithms that serve as the foundation for quantum-secure protocols but can operate without needing a quantum computer.


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